Monday, August 31, 2009

Sain Zahoor Ahmed

This is who I went to hear last night in the Pavilion Theatre at the World Culture Festival. I wept, he was so exquisite and amazing to hear live. In fact, I was sitting in the second row and he was only feet away from me: a small elegant man utterly lost in the ecstasy of Sufi music, song and dance. He wore a sparkly gold costume that flashed in the lights. The Ambassador from Pakistan introduced him. I was delighted and a little surprised that she did, as traditional Muslims are usually utterly opposed to Sufism, the mystical expression of Islam. It is the mystical aspect that appeals to me in any religion, i.e the personal awareness and experience of God without the need for a middle-man or organised structure.

Doolin Ferries

I should have known things were dodgy when Doolin Ferries charged us an extra 10 euro over the price advertised on their website (a price, I might add, which I had also confirmed on the telephone). When we got to the other side we discovered that those with Irish accents paid less. "We are a private company, we can charge what we like," said the owner when I complained. Then, when we returned two days later, we discovered our car - left in the car park just in front of the ferry dock - was broken into and there was an attempt to hot-wire it. (Idiot criminal, as you can't hot-wire a Ford apparently). There were no signs anyway to warn that this might be a bad place to leave your car without an armed guard. Well that will be the last time I am going near Doolin Ferries. Next time I go to Inis Oirr, I go via Rossaveal in Connemara.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Spam Police

As I clear out my spam folder every morning I wonder briefly who are these people determined to sell me viagra, watches, and acai berry diets. Does anyone ever respond to them? I can only think that someone must or why else would they be so persistent? And if they give contact information for those stupid enough to send money, doesn't that mean they are traceable and capable of being caught? We've got Interpol to deal with global criminals, there should be some kind of Interspampol to deal with Internet criminals. Their headquarters could be in the Balkans to go with their name.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shatner On the Mount

Almost finished Chapter 28 (slog, slog, sigh) and here's a hilarious little surprise sent by my brother-in-law, James. It doesn't get much funnier than this!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Last Post for the Night

Yep, it's just past 3:30 am and I'm only finishing up now before I head for the leaba (Irish for 'bed). What am I doing awake and on the computer at this hour? Finally finished Chapter 26 of new book (adult, 'spiritual fiction' for wont of a better label). I'm determined to reach Chapter 30 before I head off for Inis Oirr, Gaeltacht island off the west coast of Ireland, the smallest of the famed Aran Islands, next week. I should be in Spain right now but mothers don't go off on holidays when their kids are sick, no matter how old they are. (The kids, I mean, not the mothers, and she's on the mend, buiochas le Dia.) Have postponed that trip till October. Meanwhile, here's a hilarious image I swiped from one of the blogs I love to read - Paddy K, an Irishman living in Sweden (how's that for a strange mix). He writes hilarious rants that make me laugh but also, like all true comics, gets serious from time to time. There was something else I was going to say but my brain is mush and it's gone from me. Ah well. OĆ­che mhaith agus good night! (Practising the oul teanga before I head off.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Church of the Raw Food

Went to a raw food talk and demonstation at a friend's house the other day. I'm always interested in alternative lifestyles not to mention a new recipe or two. Finn was vegetarian for years - chiefly on the basis of animal rights and not liking to 'eat flesh' - so I was too, except when I travelled or visited my mother. In the latter cases, I confess, I always fell on any meat with glad cries, especially a rasher sambo. Not big on steak, mind you. My vegetarian household was reflected in my writing as my characters became increasingly vegetarian. Back to the raw food demo. Firstly, I have to say that anyone I have ever known who ate this way solely - including the guy who gave the talk - always looked malnourished, too thin for their body height, and of a sickly pallor. Words like 'robust' and 'healthy' just wouldn't apply. That said, it was very exciting to try wheatgrass for the first time. Seriously green and grassy! At one point we sat down to plates of food including dehydrated pizza base with various vegetable toppings and lettuce rolls with bean sprout fillings. For a moment I thought, "omigod, I'm a rabbit." I swear I caught a look of sympathy from the dog who was looking in the window at us. Did get some great recipes, though, including avocado and pine nut dip (soak your pine nuts overnight, blend and flavour to taste) and banana 'ice cream' which was simply bananas peeled and frozen then blended into a creamy paste. YUM.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Moral Decadence

I'm beginning to wonder what is going on in 'serious' American film-making at the moment. I found the moral core of two movies I watched recently quite sinister. First of all Doubt, supposedly tackling the question of clerical sexual abuse of children. (I understand this was originally a play.) There it was smack in the middle of what was being presented as a complex treatment of suspicion and guilt in such matters: the pernicious invention of a 'gay child' - his mother confirms his inclinations as being the reason why his father beat him - who is better off as the priest's favourite because it saves him from racist bullying. Equally objectionable is the invention of a black mother who says this is fine as it helps her son get through school. And now I've just finished watching the much-lauded The Reader and I'm equally horrified at the film's attempts to elicit sympathy for a clearly unrepentant Nazi, i.e. "I had to let the 300 women burn to death in the church as it was the only way to do my job and keep things orderly." (I understand this was originally a book.) Sympathy is insidiously elicited by making the former SS guard at Auschwitz a) fairly young, beautiful, sexy and often naked b) illiterate and ashamed of it (though not ashamed, for a moment, of murder!) and c) most pointedly, uneducated and working class. The latter's impoverished flat and then equally impoverished prison cell is deliberately and shamelessly contrasted with the fabulous wealth and artworks of the spacious apartment of a Jewish survivor, who also happens to be a writer (how's that for iron-fisted irony). Is this not a blatant if unspoken repetition of the specious rationalisation for the extermination of the Jews? i.e. they are richer, more powerful and superior to us? And how on earth did this movie get away with this stance? I repeat, what is going on in serious American film-making these days? Answer: moral decadence.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Insane Leaps of Logic

I just heard recently from a friend in the business that Hollywood has determined that the disastrous failure of both The Golden Compass and Inkheart films was due to the fact they had girl leads. Nothing to do, of course, with bad scripts and bad direction and tedious mind-numbing one-dimensional reductions of exquisitely complex and multi-layered books! When The Dark is Rising film failed for the latter reasons did anyone say it had to do with the fact the main character was a boy? Of course not. The default mode in our civilisation - be it religion, society, arts or whatever - is blame the female. And what is the upshot of this latest leap of Hollywood logic (those two words together are a contradiction in terms)? A big reject stamp on anything with a young female lead. Go figure.